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Sunday, February 28, 2010

To cull or not to cull

A year ago, the “problem” of white-tailed deer in Sifton Bog resulted in a recommendation by the Environment and Transportation Committee (ETC) to ask the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Upper Thames Recreational Authority to conduct a legal deer hunt in the Fall of 2009, this despite the fact that our own ecologist had stated that the results of the research on the effects of the deer on the bog vegetation had not been completed. Judy Bryant and I were alone in opposing the recommendation put forward by Gord Hume and Cheryl Miller and supported by Paul Hubert and Roger Caranci.

Following the meeting, the ecologist was interviewed by the London Free Press and confirmed that the vegetation studies were not complete. I myself, when interviewed, indicated that I believed some members of the committee were anxious to have a cull as soon as possible because they didn’t want to deal with the issue in an election year, a comment which infuriated a couple of members of the committee who then took it upon themselves to complain to the acting CAO about staff’s comments in the paper. There followed a flurry of emails about who said what to whom, some of which tried to bully me into agreeing to a cull for the fall of 2010.

Fortunately, council was deluged with emails and phone calls opposing a cull. The mayor took it upon herself, before a packed meeting of council, to recommend that we wait for the results of the vegetation exclosure studies and obtain information about alternative approaches to deer management before acting on the recommendations of ETC. A consultant with expertise in the area was subsequently hired to report on the issue. That report became available earlier this month.

According to the report, the problems of the bog are caused not by deer, but by people, including the activities of researchers. The number of deer in the bog is four, about half of the estimated carrying capacity. Deer automobile collisions are down as well, and only 7.5% of these occur within 1 km of the bog. Included in reasons for the decline in deer population are a wet summer which makes the bog inhospitable, cessation of deer feeding by a number of residents, and completion of the development of the strip mall.

That should put the issue to rest for the time being, I hope. I would not want London to become notorious for being the first city in Canada to have a deer hunt.

You can access the full report (Item 9) here.

Jonathan Sher’s story is available at here.

1 comment:

Kane Faucher said...

Was there not an affordable proposal a few years ago to consider contraceptives for these deer? Indeed, the issue is more urban sprawl than their population impact.